The Great 38 is preparing for its second annual race benefiting the Roy Lee “Chucky” Mullins Memorial Scholarship Endowment, which helps Ole Miss students with disabilities or those in serious financial need. The weekend-long event will feature a 3-mile run, an 8-mile run and a half marathon, with all the races ending at the 38-yard line of the field in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“The Great 38 exists because Run Oxford believes that Oxford deserves more road races than it previously had,” Marvin King, president of Run Oxford, said. “We also wanted a way to connect UM and Oxford in a meaningful and helpful way.”
Proceeds from the race will benefit the endowment through the University of Mississippi Foundation. Mullins, who wore No. 38 as a member of the Rebel football team, was paralyzed during a 1989 football game. Despite his paralysis, Mullins was able to return to classes at the university before he died from a pulmonary embolism as a result of his injuries.
The weekend kicks off with the Health and Race Expo sponsored by Visit Oxford and Run Oxford on Friday.
“We have Lululemon coming down from Memphis and Trails and Treads coming over from Tupelo,” King said. “It’s a holiday for the Oxford K-12 schools, so we’ve partnered with the YMCA to host lots of kid friendly events. Jody Hill, author of ’38: The Chucky Mullins Effect’ will be signing books at the expo.”
King said a tremendous amount of planning goes into the Great 38, from marketing, planning and certifying the course.
“Imagine you’re an event planner, but the event is spread out between 3 and 13.1 miles,” he said. “We have to design and certify the course, collaborate with the UPD and OPD and recruit more than 100 volunteers.”
King credits the Run Oxford team for making the race happen.
“It is a large undertaking that happens because Run Oxford is comprised of wonderful people that really want to see Oxford become a true running town,” he said.
King also wants Run Oxford to develop positive relationships with all of its partners, which include the city, the university, city law enforcement, the YMCA, Palmer Home for Children, Ole Miss Athletics and all of its sponsors.
At least 700 people are running in this year’s race, many being repeat runners from last year. Senior Arabic and international studies major Henry Stonnington competed in the race last year and is excited for this year’s race.
“I like running the occasional 5K, and this race is very meaningful to the Ole Miss and Oxford community,” he said. “Chucky Mullins is one of the most important symbols of the university.”
King said he is most excited to see the runners take off in their races.
“We do this for them, and I derive a lot of satisfaction from providing an opportunity for runners to enjoy themselves,” he said.